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"I can't tell whether or not there's going to be a Singularity. I don't really believe the rapture of the nerds stereotype..."
- Charles Stross

  A networked personal digital assistant - that really is an assistant.  

This is a remarkable (and early) description of a wirelessly networked personal digital assistant. The device is only part of the story; the networked computers that ran these devices had a high degree of artificial intelligence.

The principle of it was clear enough. It was a remote input-output station for a shared-time computer program, with certain attachments that functioned as pocket flask, first-aid kit, cosmetics bag, and so on. It looked something like a mace or a jester's scepter.

The remote-access computer transponder called the "joymaker" is your most valuable single possession in your new life. If you can imagine a combination of telephone, credit card, alarm clock, pocket bar, reference library, and full-time secretary, you will have sketched some of the functions provided by your joymaker.

Essentially, it is a transponder connecting you with the central computing facilities of the city in which you reside on a shared-time, self-programming basis. "Shared-time" means that many other joymakers use the same central computer - in Shoggo, something like ten million of them. If you go to another city your joymaker will continue to serve you, but it must be reset to a new frequency and pulse-code. This will be done automatically when you travel by public transportation. However, if you use private means, or if for any reason you spend any time in the agricultural areas, you must notify the joymaker of your intentions. It will inform you of any steps you must take.

"Self-programming" means that the programmed software includes procedures for translating most normal variations of voice, idiom, accent, and other variable modalities into a computer-oriented sim-script and thence into the mathematical expressions on which the computers operate. As long as your personal joymaker is within reception range of your voice, you may communicate via other shared-time transponders if you wish. Appropriate modulation will be established automatically. However, do not attempt to use another individual's joymaker when yours is not within range. Proper conditioning cannot be assured. In the event that your joymaker is lost or damaged ...

From The Age of The Pussyfoot, by Frederik Pohl.
Published by Ballantine in 1966
Additional resources -

This quote comes from an "owner's manual" that is presented to the novel's protagonist.

Note that it works solely with a voice-activated interface.

Joymakers had a variety of amazing functions, most of which are unique predictions by Pohl; see these links for details and quotes for the different joymaker functions:

In his "afterword" for the book, Pohl himself provides a likely timeframe for this piece of technovelgy:

"I do not really think it will be that long. Not five centuries. Perhaps not even five decades."
Looks like we're right on time.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Age of The Pussyfoot
  More Ideas and Technology by Frederik Pohl
  Tech news articles related to The Age of The Pussyfoot
  Tech news articles related to works by Frederik Pohl

Joymaker-related news articles:
  - Cellular Phone Robot And iPhone - Joymaker Wannabes
  - GOOG-411 Google's Free Talking Phone Search
  - Wellness Mobile Phone Personal Trainer In A Cellphone
  - DoCoMo S0703i Smellular Phone Makes Scents
  - Ribbit Amphibian Cellphone Internet Mashup
  - iPhones For Freshmen At ACU
  - What Apple Could Learn From SF: iPhone As Mediator
  - SIRI Virtual Assistant Like Pohl's Joymaker
  - How Smart Is Siri?
  - Cortana, Your Personal Assistant

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